Carnal DevicesIn “Carnal Devices,” the steampunk universe exists on the periphery of the action. There are the requisite mechanical devices, the alternate political reality, and an exclusive club called the Steam Society, where inventors, scientists and architects gather. But the story is very much centered on India, a girl raised in poverty whose only option in life was to sell herself on the streets. Her skin is dark, and her mother—who passed away in a cholera epidemic—never revealed the identity of her father.  

“Carnal Devices” explores India’s search for her identity. Her options are very limited, and she struggles to rise above society’s expectations of her.  Phineas Felter, a renowned scholar in the field of sexual psychology, is the one who helps her believe in herself and offers to help her gain access to the Steam Society, a club where no woman has ever been permitted.

I spent several years writing novels for young adults, which was great fun. Then I moved into erotica, where I get to express a completely different part of myself,  and combining erotica with steampunk seemed like a highly enjoyable mix. I had a lot of fun writing this, and I was thrilled when Ellora’s Cave accepted it. And I was even more thrilled when I saw the cover art.  

What does Steampunk mean to you?

Victorian science fiction, in the same vein as The Time Machine, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

What is your favorite thing about steampunk or writing about steampunk?

The freedom involved in basing a story in a real historical era, and yet being able to change any part of that history to suit me. I love reading about Victorian times, but writing about it, and having to stick to the history with one hundred percent accuracy, is tough! With steampunk, I can alter history to suit my needs.

What is your favorite steampunk accessory?

I love all those steampunk gadgets, but I think dirigibles are my favorite.

What turned you on to steampunk?

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman. I didn’t know it qualified as steampunk at the time. I also like Cherie Priest. I’m reading Boneshaker at the moment.

Do you have any upcoming Steampunk stories you can tell us about?

Yes, I am currently getting ready to submit Camellia’s Consequences to Ellora’s Cave. It’s about a woman who is a renowned Panoptographer (photographer) and is betrayed by her fiancé (the inventor of the Panoptiscope), so Camellia becomes hellbent on revenge against all men who betray the women in their lives. She becomes a highly skilled sexual blackmailer.

Who is your favorite character of all from one of your Steampunk stories?

Ivy Harding, from Ivy’s Inventions, another steampunk novel I am working on. This one has a far more complex social setting. World-building is paramount to this novel, whereas for my others, it was the relationship between the characters. Ivy is smart, spunky, sarcastic and witty. She is a young woman in a man’s world, where women are not allowed to attend the Academy of Science, which she desperately wants, because she is an inventor like her father. I have a lot of technological gadgets in this one, but I don’t expect to finish it for another six months or so.

What’s the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?

Coming up with crazy names for the inventions! For some reason, I find that difficult.

What’s the easiest thing about creating a Steampunk universe?

The freedom of it gives me wings. I can dabble in fantasy or sci-fi or whatever I wish. There are no rules to stick to, really.

What does steampunk allow you to do as a writer that no other genres can?

I think it allows me more creativity because I can combine genres. It can be a historical/science fiction/fantasy/romance all rolled up into one.

What are the challenges and advantages to writing a steampunk story?

The world-building can be tough. It must be believable and original. Advantages? I’d still say the world-building, because it’s the most fun part of it.

How much research does it take and how much imagination?

I would say 50/50. I’m always doing research as I write to find out about clothing in Victorian times, and social conventions, and political parties, and the suffragette movement, etc.

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